In a move that stunned just about everyone, Beyoncé surprised us last Friday with the (unanticipated) release of her fifth studio album, “Beyoncé” – announced in a video posted to Instagram. Free from the typical publicity machine surrounding new albums, “Beyoncé” seemed to come from the ether, straight from its star to her fans and complete with 14 songs and 17 accompanying videos. The beauty (and irony) of this unconventional “anti-PR” play is the PR success it became in only a matter of hours.
Claiming she’s “bored” with the usual processes and that “there’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans,” Bey uses a longer mini-documentary style video on her Facebook page to talk directly to supporters about her vision for the album. This genius approach is of course its own new PR strategy in and of itself, proving that immediacy and authenticity win the day in our “always-on” world. The numbers seem to agree. The album sparked 1.2 million tweets in the first 12 hours with influencers like Katy Perry weighing in: “Don’t talk to me today unless it’s about @Beyoncé THANX.” The team at DGC seems to agree too; we had listened to all 14 tracks twice by 11 a.m. on Friday (and an encore performance during Wine-O Friday later that day).
So what can brands take away from Beyoncé’s PR homerun?
- Be Real. By telling fans about the project directly in a video, showcasing home video footage and releasing all songs and videos in one fell swoop, Beyoncé sends the message that – even though she’s been a global pop sensation since her teen years – she’s still the everywoman. Just like you, she remembers the first time she saw MJ’s Thriller video. Just like you, she made goofy home movies with her besties. And just like you, she uses social media as her primary form of communication these days. Brands should take note; we live in an age of authenticity and consumers demand transparency.
- Give ‘em something to talk about. By not talking about the album via countless blogs and talk show interviews, Beyoncé balked the unconventional and gave people more to talk about. Successful brands keep people coming back by constantly giving their customers something new, something fresh. Something unexpected.
- Embrace multi-media. Beyoncé’s idea to create an album that goes beyond audio and includes a complementary visual experience is spot on. Not only does it position Beyoncé as a true artist — someone capable of creating a fully-baked concept — it gives fans more media elements to share, like and tweet. Content isn’t exactly a novel idea, but it’s important that the content entertains, enlightens or informs.
It’s been nearly five months since Vine was introduced as a free iOS app and since then it’s become one of the most downloaded applications in the Apple App Store. Vine, introduced by Twitter in 2012, enables users to create and post six-second video clips that can be shared on social networking channels like Twitter and Facebook.
The very idea of video creation is all about storytelling, while connecting and engaging viewers. But can you do that in only six seconds? Tribeca Film Festival founder Robert De Niro thinks so. In April, De Niro was asked about the effect of technology on the festival and filmmaking itself. He responded by calling Vine an “interesting thing,” and said:
“Six seconds of beginning, middle and end. I was just trying to time on my iPhone six seconds just to get a sense of what that is. It can actually be a long time.”
- Vine in the News: News outlets are getting in the Vine action, too. In February, Tulin Saloglu, a columnist for Al-Monitor and a New York Times contributor, successfully used Vine to capture terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. By posting the videos to her @turkeypulse Twitter feed, Daloglu’s films were one of the first attempts to use Vine for journalism purposes.
- Vine + RyGos: Given Vine’s short form, its success in the world of memes is no surprise. Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal went viral last week, propelling creator Ryan McHenry’s following on Vine from eight followers to more than 15,000 (McHenry also has nearly 4.000 followers on Twitter now—we’re curious to know what the figure was before #RGWEHC hit) and no doubt sparking ongoing spoon torment for RyGos.
- Vine in the White House: Vine is also becoming political. On April 22, the White House joined the bandwagon, publishing its first Vine video through its official Twitter account by announcing the annual White House Science Fair.
As the app continues to gain momentum, we at DGC are cognizant of the need to begin leveraging Vine with our clients. When pitching media, Vine can be used to raise awareness of pending news in a fun, viral way—you can develop Vine videos to tease hints of potential news announcements to get media buzzing before a big launch. Since Vine only allows for six seconds of recorded footage, it caters to us PR pros looking to get a message across quickly and succinctly.
Vine can also help with clients’ social media channels like Twitter. For your next social contest, consider asking users to submit a Vine video, allowing you to grow your clients’ following by leveraging new and existing hashtags. You can even think about distributing a social media release with Vine videos embedded to give the campaign wider exposure and drive traffic.
Do you have more ideas on how Vine can be used by the PR industry? Let us know in the comments below!
DGC reporting live from day 2 at SXSWi 2013! The festival is in full gear, with early to mid-morning panels so packed lines were snaked around buildings and one-in, one-out policies were being enforced. We did manage to make a few sessions that boosted big names and big brands. Among them:
Brand Fans, the New Brand Marketers: Moderated by Mashable’s Todd Wasserman and featuring Facebook Creative Strategist Kevin Knight, PepsiCo’s Global Head of Digital Shiv Singh, and Frito-Lay’s Sr. Director of Brand Marketing Jen Saenz, this panel covered the rise of crowdsourcing, its merits, and how it’s disrupting traditional marketer/agency relationships.
PepsiCo has crowdsourced a number of brand initiatives, including Do Us A Flavor, a flavor naming and defining contest for Lay’s, and Crash the Super Bowl, a contest for user-generated commercials for Doritos.
Why crowdsource? It’s a way to engage consumers with a brand in a personal matter on their own terms, Saenz said. What’s more, at a time when consumers have their own media channels in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it’s a natural way to extend reach and drive the all-powerful personal stamp of approval for a brand, Singh said. Wasserman asked if crowdsourcing – with its focus on the wisdom of crowds — lessens the need for ad agencies and marketing skills. Knight replied that great creative agencies makes strong emotional connections between consumers and brands, so the best ones will be able to use crowsourcing as a tool to make even better marketing.
Insights about Innovation: A “Fireside chat” featuring Mahalo.com CEO and Founder Jason Calacanis interviewing Yammer Founder and CEO David Sacks (also the former Chief Operating Officer of PayPal). This wide-ranging discussion covered Sacks’ views on the four big players in tech and what he looks for when funding a startup.
Sacks said he only wants to invest in companies that will overhaul an industry – his latest investment, Houzz, is an app for remodeling homes – and that the first question he asks of new products is: does it promote a behavior I can see consumers engaging in? When asked about copycat products and services in the tech world, he quoted the famous Picasso saying “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal,” and said that one of the greatest flaws in a product managers is excessive pride.
And lastly, a little Page Six-style gossip: SXSWi is teeming with celebrities. So far, our team has spotted New Girl’s Jake Johannsen, Two and a Half Men’s Chuck Lorre, Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley, Matthew Just Keep Livin’ McConaughey and one of this DGC’ers personal heroes: David Carr of the New York Times. Signing off for now …
Day #3 got off to an early start (after a not so early night!) as we headed to see Goodby’s own Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development and resident educational evangelist for her panel, The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything. She was joined by Glenn Cole of 72andSunny, Matthew Brimer of the General Assembly and Giselle Schmitz of Facebook to discuss the importance of education in the advertising and marketing industries. Moderated by Lori Kent, the panelist shared their perspectives on the need to increase education and digital training as the industry evolves.
Matthew Brimer stated the importance of having a well-rounded skill set, pointing out the internet isn’t new and it’s surprising more people aren’t more familiar with using it effectively. Comparing the internet to a much older invention—electricity—he stated, “imagine if you had an electricity department at your company. Or said, I’m going to start a company, and we’re going to use electricity.” The internet has become almost as commonplace place as electricity, and there is a clear value in teaching your employees how to master it.
Digital education doesn’t just increase the employee’s value; it also benefits the company or agency as a whole. Implementing program that ups the level of talent within an agency allows it to better serve their clients. Goodby’s Ed Program (developed by Allison) takes it a step further by offering courses outside the agency to clients making them a more valuable partner and resource, which in turn can lead of business growth and positive PR—and who doesn’t like positive PR?
For more from Allison, you can check out her Fast Company article: We’re All Technologists Now: 6 Steps To Retraining And Reinventing Your Creative Talent.
We caught up with Allison and moderator Lori Kent after the panel for a few more insights on the importance of Digital Ed, which you can view here as well:
Wednesday was another big day for Facebook. In addition to hosting its first ever Marketing Conference, which viewers could watch via live stream on the Facebook site, Facebook also launched its Timeline pages for brands. New features include an updated layout with a cover photo, the ability to edit content without having to open separate pages, and opportunities to add content that spans the course of the brand’s lifetime to date.
But how will consumers respond to this new brand page format?
Before Facebook launched brand Timeline pages, it launched personal Timeline profiles. Similar to the brand Timeline pages, users can upload cover photos, edit content in one place and add information to past years to create a more robust illustration of the entirety of their lives to date. Some people have jumped at the opportunity to update their profiles, while others have found the format to be confusing, overwhelming and miscommunicated.
“I’m not really using it,” says DGC’s Kendra Peavy. “Every now and then I take a peek, but I think more time needs to pass.”
DGC’s Erin Donahue feels similarly: “I still have no idea what Facebook Timeline really is. I don’t think it was communicated to users properly. Now one person’s page looks different from the next. I like that Facebook is evolving to meet the needs of consumers, but I wish it was easier to comprehend, and I wish there was some sort of guide for how Timeline works.”
Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” From the beginning, it has achieved this through constant growth, innovation and adaptability. In the grand scheme of things, Timeline is just one of many changes experienced by the Facebook community over the past eight years. So will people get used to these changes as they have in the past? Share your thoughts on Facebook Timeline for brands and people in the comments section below.